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Former Kiwi PM accused US of 'bullying' over Fahrenheit 9/11 film screening

By Nairita Das

Washington, Dec 24 (ANI): Former New Zealand Helen Clark has alleged that the US Embassy in Wellington used "outright bullying" and "unprofessional" conduct in complaining when the ruling Labour Party held a fundraising screening of Michael Moore's film Fahrenheit 9/11.

Commenting on a July 2004 US embassy report, released by Wikileaks, Clark said that the fundraiser was organised by the Labour electorate committee, the New Zealand Herald reports.

"This comes down to really outright bullying. It's pretty crazy. I just find it unprofessional," she added.

Fahrenheit 9/11 was critical of the response of the US Government, and in particular President George W Bush, to the terrorist attacks on 2001 and its later prosecution of a war in Iraq.

According to one of the leaked cables, former Deputy Chief of Mission David Burnett was so concerned about the fundraiser in July 2004 that he called Clark's office to discuss about the issue. He also called Member of Parliament and cabinet minister Marian Hobbs to stop her from hosting an event where the film was to be screened.

Clark's office called him back to say the minister would be attending but not hosting the event.

Burnett suggests in his cable to Washington that a "potential fiasco" might have been avoided because of his phone calls.

"It is apparent to us that neither the minister nor anyone else in the Labour Government seems to have thought there was anything wrong with a senior minister hosting such an event," Burnett said.

"Ambassador will use a scheduled meeting with the Prime Minister to tell Clark of the near instantaneous press queries for [US Government] comment in this matter and remind her that we would really rather not get dragged into internal political issues, such as Ministerial fundraising events for Clark's Labour Party," he added. (ANI)

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